After Jesus was betrayed…He was arrested, falsely accused, slapped, spat on, beaten, repeatedly mocked, savagely whipped, crowned with thorns, and had three metal spikes viciously hammered into his wrists and feet. After all that, He spent approximately six hours suffocating to death on the cross. For the last three hours, thick clouds covered the land and blocked the light of the sun.
Matthew 27:45-46 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over the whole land. At about three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
After all the torture He had endured, Jesus cried out in agony to the Father. However, these weren’t mere grunts and gasps. Instead, Jesus was quoting Scripture – the opening line from Psalm 22.
Think of the kinds of words that come out when we are at our most painful moments. Of the things Jesus could have said while on the cross, why would He quote Psalm 22? Although it makes sense that Jesus felt forsaken by God, as this was the first time that He had ever been spiritually separated from the Father, we find that even in His last moments, Jesus was still giving us a view into His relationship with the Father.
Psalm 22 is a prophetic Psalm written by David roughly 1000 years before Jesus was born. Although David wrote the psalm as an outpouring of his own situation, God the Holy Spirit clearly superintended David’s writing to foretell the suffering Jesus would endure. Reading through, we can clearly see why Jesus identified with David’s writings:
Psalm 22:1-11 My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
Why are You so far from my deliverance and from my words of groaning?
My God, I cry by day, but You do not answer, by night, yet I have no rest.
But You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
Our fathers trusted in You;
they trusted, and You rescued them.
They cried to You and were set free;
they trusted in You and were not disgraced.
But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by men and despised by people.
Everyone who sees me mocks me;
they sneer and shake their heads:
“He relies on the Lord; let Him rescue him;
let the Lord deliver him, since He takes pleasure in him”
You took me from the womb, making me secure while at my mother’s breast.
I was given over to You at birth; You have been my God from my mother’s womb.
Do not be far from me, because distress is near and there is no one to help.
In His worst agony, even when He felt totally abandoned, Jesus still sought the Father. Even when it felt like His cries of pain and anguish went unanswered, Jesus reminded Himself of the Father’s track-record of rescue, freedom, and help by finding a connection in the Scriptures.
Whenever we wrestle with the same feelings of betrayal, abandonment, or fear...our best refuge is to seek the Father and remember His goodness. Just like Jesus, we too can trust Him when everything and everyone is against us.